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When you look at all the ways that your data can be placed at risk, it can be pretty discouraging. As discussed in our last two blogs, data is at risk from bad actors, failed hardware, human error and external events largely beyond anyone’s control. However, there are a range of solutions, some of which can be money-saving, that can help mitigate risk. Here are four key areas on which to focus.

 

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Aside from human error and the work of bad actors, our data faces others risks. In particular, the failure of your hardware and software to protect as designed, and the numerous external threats that exist, largely beyond anyone’s control.

 

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We hear a lot of talk about data security because of the constant threat of cyber attacks and hacking. News of data breaches are extremely common. As a result, we are exceptionally concerned about the branding and reputation consequences of a data breach. However, there are other events which could occur that make our data inaccessible. It is important to know you are doing the best you can to protect against cyber attacks, ransomware and other forms of data theft, but data security goes beyond that. Instead, let’s look at data from a broader perspective.

 

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Disaster recovery is a basic element of good business continuity planning. Business continuity planning refers to the broad range of plans created so that a business–that includes veterinary practices–can continue to be operational no matter what negative event might occur. Business continuity planning addresses severe, catastrophic events, loss of the lead doctor, director, or other principals in the organization, severe natural disasters that incapacitate a physical location, etc. Disaster recovery planning is one piece of this broad planning. Specifically, disaster recovery plans refer to how to quickly recover from some event that compromises your IT infrastructure.

 

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If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a ransomware attack, there are basically only three options open to you. Ransomware is a type of computer virus that kidnaps your data and holds it hostage for money. It has become increasingly common attacking governments and all manner of business and non-for profit institutions.

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Selling stolen IDs and other personal data is a lucrative trade for hackers. They are always looking for sources where vital information is stored. As a small to midsize business you store your client’s personal information, collected from different sources, on your computers and servers. Your Point-of-sale (PoS) terminal and some website transactions can be completed by use of electronic banking, credit cards or debit cards only. Your customers have to key-in their pins or passwords to make payments. That information has to be saved. Also, depending on the kind of services or products you provide, you may be collecting Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers and DOBs of your clients. Information that personal is as important as it can get. Any source of that information is like a gold mine for a hacker. All this means only one thing for you: A data security nightmare.

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There are many threats to the integrity of a small business, and not all of them are as dramatic as a cyberattack or a hurricane. Every small business needs to do a risk assessment to determine all the threats that exist that could bring harm. External threats are the ones that get the the most attention. These can be big snowstorms or hurricanes that bring down power lines and network connections. They can also be man-made. A power outage due to a grid failure, or an act of terror. Also in this category are phishing scams, cyber attacks and data theft from external sources.

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Are you under the impression that data loss is all about putting up firewalls to protect against evil cyberattacks? Some of the biggest sources of data loss include sloppiness, human error, and just plain forgetfulness.

What are some of the unglamorous things that we do everyday that leave us vulnerable?

 

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You went into business because you have an interest and expertise in some particular product or service. You began the firm to offer that product or service, but a dirty little problem came along with that new company. IT requirements. You need equipment, and you need networks, and printers, and data storage to keep the company up and running. As a consequence, you’ve become responsible for managing something you probably don’t care very much about or even understand especially well.

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The adoption of technology from the simplest of matters to the most complex problems has rendered us heavily dependent on it. We love paying our bills minutes before they are due. We enjoy seeing loved ones face-to-face on our computer screens. We can access and print our extremely sensitive records from government and financial websites in a matter of minutes instead of waiting for the mail for days. The time and resources that technology saves are invaluable, but this convenience has a very ugly side. This convenience brings costs, which could include irreparable financial, professional, and social damage. The technology that is designed to make life easier can also wreak havoc when criminals use it to breach secured, personal information. So how do we tame this beast called ‘breach of data security’?

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